Disclaimer: I own nothing...sue me and all you'll get is my student loan debts

On with the story...

He walked aimlessly through the streets of Sunnydale, watching as the sun dropped ever lower in the sky. He needed to find somewhere to go, and soon. It was never a good idea to be out after dark, especially here. Willow was out of town visiting family, so that wasn't an option. He could ask Buffy if she could put him up for the night, but that would doubtless lead to questions, and he couldn't face that right now…couldn't tell her that he was terrified to go home, let alone why…no, Buffy wasn't an option either.

Wiping the rain from his face - 'when did it start raining?' - Xander looked around to see where he was. The sight of the familiar door a few metres in front of him brought a fresh hope…Giles would help him! A flash of panic followed. What if Giles asked questions? What if he decided to tell the police about Xander's dad? What if…

"Don't be an idiot!" Xander quietly scolded himself. "This is Giles...he'll respect my privacy, it's only for one night, after all." 'At least, I hope it is.' With that disheartening thought in mind, Xander headed up the path to the door.

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Giles jumped at the sound of someone knocking on the door. It was unusual for him to have visitors in the evening, except for Buffy after she had patrolled. Curious, he rose to answer the door. At the last moment caution took over, and he grabbed a sword from the umbrella stand behind the door. If he ever had visitors he dismissed it as a novelty piece of decoration, but it was incredibly convenient if anything unpleasant decided to visit. Keeping the sword out of sight he slowly opened the door. His shock at finding Xander there, soaked to the bone and shaking slightly with the cold, nearly caused him to drop the sword. Recovering, he quickly ushered the boy in, told him to sit, and went to fetch a towel.

'Well, so far so good.' Xander sat nervously on the edge of a chair, trying to avoid getting it wet.

"Here you go Xander, wrap yourself in that, it should warm you up a little," said Giles, handing over a large bath-towel. 'What on earth possessed him to go out in this weather without so much as a sweater or jacket?' "Would you like some tea, or perhaps a hot chocolate?"

"Hot chocolate would be great, thanks. Do you want a hand…?" Xander gestured to the kitchen, trying to hide the tears which were threatening to spill. In less than five minutes Giles had shown him more attention and consideration than he was used to get from his parents in a whole week. The only time they seemed to realise he was even alive was when his father got into one of his moods over something…

"No thank you, you sit here and warm yourself up a bit…I've turned the heating up, so that should help. I'll be right back." Giles headed to the kitchen, worry settling heavily on his face as soon as he was out of sight. As he went about making Xander's hot chocolate, and a cup of Earl Grey for himself, he debated silently about how best to handle this. There was obviously something wrong, but pushing him might cause him to close up about it. On the other hand, if it was something serious, then it would need sorting out, soon. Finally he decided to follow Xander's lead. If the boy wanted to talk, then he would listen, and if not, then he would wait. With that thought in mind, he loaded a tray with cookies and the two steaming hot drinks, and headed for the living room.

"Here you go," Giles said as he passed Xander his hot chocolate. "Would you like to borrow some dry clothes?"

"Oh damn! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to drench the chair…I'll just…" Xander moved to stand as he spoke, almost spilling his hot chocolate in his nervous haste.

"Actually, I was thinking you might be a bit more comfortable if you had some warm, dry clothes. Don't worry about the chair." Giles replied hurriedly. When Xander made no move to return to his seat, Giles quickly continued. "Really, sit back down."

Slightly reassured, Xander returned to his previous position. Giles thought he looked rather awkward perched on the edge of the chair as he was, but determined it best to say nothing. The two sat in companionable silence for a few minutes, each sipping at his drink.

"Xander, is something the matter? Not that you're not welcome, but it's not everyday you turn up on my door-step in the middle of the night…has something happened?" Giles spoke as carefully as he could, feeling as though he was trying to walk on egg-shells.

Xander's face took on a deer-in-the-headlights expression for a second, and then schooled itself to the first thing he thought of…an almost comic annoyed look. With an effort he managed to lie quite convincingly, telling himself it was better than the truth.

"My Dad's brother and his family are visiting…they basically hate me, and Carl, my cousin, has decided to take over my room for the duration of their stay…I kinda blew up at him, and my dad told me to 'go cool off', so I went…couldn't even go back to my room for a jacket, cos the as…uh, jerk locked my door!" Xander let out an exasperated sigh for effect, and then waited… 'please believe me Giles…'

"That's dreadful Xander." 'What could be so bad that that would seem better? What's he hiding?' "You're more than welcome to my couch, if you'd rather not go back tonight...I don't have a spare bed, I'm afraid."

"Uhh…umm…I mean, I wouldn't want to impose, I…"

"Nonsense Xander, it's not an imposition. You're more than welcome, really." Giles looked right at him, trying to convey as much understanding as he could, trying to set Xander at his ease.

"Well, if you're sure…" Xander still sounded a little uncertain, and not a little guilty for lying to Giles.

"Of course…would you like to let your parents know where you are?" At Xander's panicked expression, Giles' concern grew. 'What have they done now!' His anger towards them was increasing by the second, and right now he wanted nothing less than to kill Xander's parents. How could they treat him this way!

"Uhh…they'll just assume I'm at Will's…I'd best not bother them this late." 'Oh, that's real convincing Xand!'

"Very well…would you like to borrow some pyjamas then? And I'll get some bedding for the couch." Giles rose, and was about to head for the stairs when Xander spoke.

"Thank you." It was barely a whisper, Xander's voice thick with emotion. He knew Giles hadn't really bought his story, but it was nice to pretend it was the truth, just for now. Overwhelmed with gratitude, Xander decided to make himself useful. "I'll just wash these up," he said, indicating the mugs they had used.

"Okay, I'll be right back down." With that the two went about their tasks.

To be continued...

Okay, eventually I wanna get to a Buffy/Giles pairing, but I wanted a more Xander-centric story. I think he gets over-looked way too often! I'm having a bit of trouble writing him though...I can't seem to get theright balance between him and the emotions his family troubles create...if anyone's got any tips or anything, I'd appreciate it.

Also, I got a bit of writers block, I can't seem to figure out where to go next...not even sure if it's worth continuing. Let me know if you think I should give up on this story, I'm not sure it's my best writing anyway!

Sarah x